Despite a recent run of disappointing results, Liverpool are still very much in a race for the Premier League title, sitting in second place a single point behind Manchester City, faced with an — on paper — incredibly forgiving run-in. Odds are, the race will go down to the very last day of the season, and at the very worst, the Reds could find themselves with the highest-ever recorded points total for a silver medalist.
The main reason for the Merseysiders’ tremendously impressive season thus far has been their defensive improvement, more than halving their goals conceded per match relative to last year, and that improvement is — undoubtedly — largely down to the presence of man-mountain Virgil van Dijk.
As a season overflowing with plaudits for the centre-back’s performances nears its end, the chorus for van Dijk’s inclusion in the player of the year discussion has grown steadily louder, and one imagines that a title win could be the factor that would tip the race in the Dutchman’s favour.
The man himself, however, is clear on which accolade is most important to him.
“I want to focus on achieving something special, which this club hasn’t done for 29 years, and if either myself or any other players are involved in picking up individual awards, that’s great,” Van Dijk told FourFourTwo magazine.
“It would be a huge honour, but I’d be very proud if any of the squad win awards for a great season, like Mo Salah did last time.
“Winning the league makes you feel even more proud of yourself and the team,” he continued. “It’s a sign of the hard work you’ve put in over a whole season.
“That motivates you. Winning the Premier League title puts you in the history books forever and makes you a legend. That’s why you play football. You want to become a legend.”
No lies detected. A player of the year win would definitely not be unwarranted for the 27-year old, and certainly a feather in his cap, and yet, true legendary status in the Anfield halls would be contingent on — if not a Premier League title, specifically — being involved in the accruement of a major trophy.
Hopefully, the Reds can turn the tide of their recent form and make van Dijk’s wishes come true in 2019. If nothing else, lads, do it for Virgil.